The San Antonio Spurs had a pretty good week, despite one blip. The offense has been picking up and the defense, with Dejounte Murray and Derrick White playing together, has also been improving. Second quarters have been where the Silver and Black have been picking things up. If they can get rolling as early as, say the first quarter, the Good Guys would be revving on all cylinders. And the Rodeo Road trip is usually where that happens. Good thing it starts this week.
Week 8: The Spurs started the week with two games versus the Golden State Warriors. Even with Klay Thompson (1 half of the Splash brothers) still recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, the Warriors are still a tough out. But Dejounte Murray played an amazing game with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 8 steals and the rest of the crew also played in rhythm to beat the Warriors (with Steph Curry putting up 32). The second game was a totally different story. The Spurs came out flat and couldn’t get the aggression or energy going and a poor second half led to the loss to the Warriors. None of the Spurs got over the 20 point mark and too many of them couldn’t get out of single digits.
The first game of the Rodeo Road trip was against the Atlanta Hawks. The Silver and Black decided it was time to put on a clinic. At one point in the game, the Spurs were up by 42 points in their rout of the Hawks. The only negative in this game that saw all five starters and two bench players in double digits was the performance of the end of the bench in garbage time. Many of the writers of Pounding the Rock believe that Quinndary Weatherspoon broke a record by fouling out of the game in ten minutes (in December 1997, Bubba Wells of the Dallas Mavericks fouled out after just three minutes of play in a Hack-a-Rodman attempt by Coach Don Nelson).
On a cold Sunday night in San Antonio, the Spurs kept things hot in Charlotte versus the Hornets (where the outside temperature was 15 degrees warmer). The backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White led the way (Murray had another double double with 26 points, 12 rebounds and White put up 25 points and four steals). Instead of just one hot quarter, the Spurs smothered the Hornets in the 2nd and 4th.
Last week: 3-1 (16-11) — 105-100 vs Warriors; 114-91 vs Warriors (loss); 125-114 @ Hawks; 122-110 @ Hornets
Andrew Lopez, ESPN - 10 (Last Week: 10)
With LaMarcus Aldridge missing time due to a hip injury, San Antonio has found a new starting lineup that is paying dividends. The Spurs improved to 4-0 this season when they start Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. That group has already played the fifth-most minutes of any Spurs five-man lineup this season and carries a net rating of plus-18.4. By comparison, the Spurs’ most frequently used lineup this season — replacing Aldridge for Poeltl and Lonnie Walker IV for White — has a minus-12.5 net rating in 216 minutes.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 8 (Last Week: 8)
San Antonio split with the Warriors to start the week before consecutive wins over the Hawks and Hornets. The guard-heavy attack with LaMarcus Aldridge on the shelf has been successful, as San Antonio has now won five of its last six. Derrick White seems to be getting back to his old self, scoring a season-high 25 points in 27 minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte. The strong play poses an interesting question about how to handle Aldridge when he comes back.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 10 (Last Week: 9)
LaMarcus Aldridge has missed the last six games and the Spurs have gone 5-1. In 381 minutes with DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge on the floor together, the Spurs have been outscored by 9.3 points per 100 possessions, having allowed 120.4 per 100 (the fourth worst mark among 370 combos with at least 300 minutes on the floor together). In 349 minutes with DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl on the floor together, the Spurs are a plus-9.3 points per possessions, having allowed just 101.7 per 100. Poeltl (who’s younger than Derrick White) had 14 points (on 7-for-7 shooting), 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in just 28 minutes in Atlanta on Friday. As long he’s not shooting free throws …
The Spurs’ offense has been balanced, with seven guys averaging double-figures over the 5-1 stretch. And after doing enough to get by, it had two of its five most efficient games of the season (more than 120 points per 100 possessions) over the weekend, even though it wasn’t particularly potent from 3-point range. Keldon Johnson continues to attack the rim relentlessly and Dejounte Murray is trying to make up for Aldridge’s missing mid-range game.
With their weekend wins in Atlanta and Charlotte, the Spurs are a perfect 5-0 against the Eastern Conference, with three very winnable games in Eastern Conference arenas this week.
Mo Dahkil, Bleacher Report - 7 (Last Week: 9)
Raise your hand if you had the Spurs on top of the Southwest division. No one? That sounds about right. San Antonio has been one of the bigger surprise teams this season.
With LaMarcus Aldridge out with a hip injury, Jakob Poeltl replaced him in the starting lineup and he’s been delivering. Since starting he’s been averaging 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds to help the Spurs to a 5-1 record without Aldridge.
Last week marked the start of the annual rodeo road trip for San Antonio. The team is starting the seven-game road trip on the right foot going 2-0 to end the week. Last season it went 2-5 on the trip, which put it in a big hole.
The Spurs has been a good road team so far this season at 9-3, but this road trip can make or break them.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - 10 (Last Week: 11) (updated 2/17)
San Antonio has won five of its last six, and the youth movement has been on full display in recent nights. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White combined for 51 points in Sunday’s win over the Hornets, and the Spurs also drew double-digit scoring efforts from Lonnie Walker and Keldon Johnson. Drafting Tim Duncan in 1997 put the Spurs on a path to decades of dominance, but it was the nonlottery picks of Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginóbili and Tony Parker that kept the dynasty alive. We won’t give the Spurs another Larry O’Brien Trophy quite yet, though the recent late first rounders could spark a new playoff streak in San Antonio.
Kevin O’Conner, TheRinger.com - ?? (Last Week: 12)
Not published yet. (writer’s note: This site’s rankings seem to be hit or miss, so don’t hold your breath.)
So do you think the Spurs are going to pull both the offense and defense together during this Rodeo Road trip? While it seems to most fans like things are looking up, do you agree with the analysts’ opinions? Let us know in the comments.